What are the data protection implications of homeworking?
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announce new guidance in light of coronavirus.
The ICO is providing new guidance to organisations regarding data protection and coronavirus, which can be accessed here: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-and-coronavirus/
The ICO has stated the following:
“Data protection is not a barrier to increased and different types of homeworking. During the pandemic, staff may work from home more frequently than usual and they can use their own device or communications equipment. Data protection law doesn’t prevent that, but you’ll need to consider the same kinds of security measures for homeworking that you’d use in normal circumstances.”
Whether you work from home or in the office, you still need to comply with data protection laws. While you need to process personal data with the same care you use in the office, the home working environment throws up specific data protection concerns particularly in respect of data security. You should make sure you have a home working policy which deals with data protection and these data security issues.
Organisations must ensure that, for staff who can work from home, their obligations in respect of processing personal data are clearly communicated. Organisations may already have a home working policy – if this is the case, then this should be reviewed to ensure it remains relevant and up-to-date for practices during this pandemic.
It would be prudent to take legal advice early in relation to any issue you foresee in performing a contract. This will allow you to:
- Ensure that initial contact with your counterparty is framed in the correct way
- Ensure that any variations are fully documented so that both parties are fully protected
The end user client will be responsible for assessing if the contractor is employed or self-employed for tax purposes. It is required to take reasonable care in carrying out the assessments.
When an assessment is carried out the outcome must be confirmed to the contractor with accompanying reasons in a Status Determination Statement (SDS). This SDS must be provided to the contractor before making payment to them. It must also be provided to the agency if there is one in the chain (more on this later).
The end user client must have a dispute resolution procedure to enable to the contractor or agency to appeal the assessment outcome.
We have teamed up with Scaleup North East to help companies impacted by the coronavirus outbreak plan how to get back to business.
Our specialist lawyers will provide a free “diagnostic” call with eligible businesses across the NE, exploring challenges they are facing in the aftermath of the lockdown, and identify specific steps to survive, and then thrive, in these challenging times and beyond.
Through the collaboration with Scaleup North East, eligible North East-based SMEs are then able to apply for up to 40% funding towards up to £4,000 of legal advice.
These might include:
- Employment issues, such as dealing with a phased return to work
- Measures to support cash-flow, such as amendment to terms of trading and debt collection procedures
- Renegotiations and amendments to contracts, and other advice about contracts with suppliers and customers to deal with consequences of Covid-19
- Managing property costs – review of leases, advice on break clauses and formalisation of any revised arrangements recently put in place with landlords/tenants
- Health and safety implications of return to work and social distancing
Find out more on our website or contact partner Damien Charlton. If you are not eligible because of location but are interested in the free “diagnostic”, please contact us.
The Commission has provided guidance as to measures which Member States can introduce without notification. These include:
- Measures which apply to all businesses within a Member State (for example the furloughing measures introduced by the UK Government)
- Measures providing support direct to consumers
- Measures which are already exempt from the notification requirement (discussed further below).
To respond to the crisis the European Commission has also issued a temporary framework to provide a basis for emergency aid to be notified for approval. The framework is initially in place until 31 December 2020. The Commission continues to keep this under review and has twice widened its scope to allow more types of aid to be notified. The type of measures covered include:
- The provision of guarantees (including guarantees for 100% of loans)
- The provision of loans at low interest rates, at zero interest rates or subordinated to senior debt
- Measures to support liquidity needs or to alleviate difficulties caused by the current crisis
- Measures to recapitalise businesses
- Measures to assist sectors hit particularly hard by the current crisis (eg transport)
- Measures targeted at COVID-19 such as research and development or production of products related to tackling the virus
The Commission has approved a UK Government “umbrella” notification to allow UK public authorities to adopt the measures permitted by the Commission framework. Therefore public authorities in the UK can use the Framework without notifying individual measures or schemes to the Commission.
- On admission to critical care, the risks, benefits and likely outcomes of the different treatment options should be discussed with patients, families and carers so they can make informed decisions about their treatment wherever possible.
- A member of the critical care team should be involved in these discussions whenever the patient or team needs advice about critical care to make decisions about treatment.